Biblical Concept of Shepherding and its Significance for Pastoral Ministry in the African Context

  • Akinwale Oloyede
Keywords: Shepherding, Pastoral Ministry, Great Shepherd, Model of leadership


One of the metaphors for portraying pastoral leadership in Christianity is the imagery of the shepherd. Africans have a rich cultural heritage and understanding of shepherding, which also informs their perception and expectations of a pastor as a shepherd. The contemporary existential challenges Africans face, especially Christians, also demand a shepherding role. Reports from mass/social media suggest that some pastors could not live up to their shepherding responsibilities. A descriptive method was employed to ascertain this perception using the Biblical data, existing literature, and survey responses from 167 Africans – comprising church members, leaders, student pastors in theological schools, and church pastors. This paper explores the task of shepherding and its significance for pastoral ministry in Africa. It affirms God as the great shepherd and Jesus as the good shepherd. The research shows that shepherding is not limited to pastors but is also expected from parents and Christian leaders, as 76% of the respondents opined. A called pastor is required to have a loving capacity and selfless character. Their responsibilities entail feeding the flock with God’s word, caring for sick members, looking for backsliders, and bringing lost sinners to the fold. The research discovered a need for shepherding to be demonstrated more through teaching, discipleship, and visitation, as suggested by 97.6%. It thus underscores leading God’s people to absolute submission as the ultimate task of shepherding.